Debunking The Myths: Six Facts You Didn't Know About Airfares

9 February 2015

Are you a seasoned traveller, a one-off flyer or somewhere in between? Exactly how much do you know about those airfares you're purchasing once, twice or 10-plus times in the year? There are a lot of airfare myths being passed off as truths. It's time we busted these myths wide open and sent them to the no-fly zone.

MYTH #1: Booking your flights last minute is the best way to make the greatest savings.

Travellers are more likely to secure greater savings by booking domestic flights 21 days or more out from departure date. For international flights, aim to book at least two months in advance.

‘Last minute’ savings are often up for grabs but for those who prefer to be a little more prepared, booking in advance will save you more money. Keeping an eye on earlybird deals, released about nine months before departure, is the best way to snap up a bargain early on in your travel planning.

It is also worth noting that the day of the week and time of day can impact on the fare you pay – the best savings are had on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

MYTH #2: Everyone on the plane, in the same cabin class, has paid the same price for their seat.

As the aircraft fills up, the prices climb higher. Each incremental increase is what is known as a ‘fare bucket’.

Airline seats are a perishable commodity. Once the flight departs there is no value on that seat to the airline so their goal is to sell every seat on every flight.

Seats in an aircraft are divided into ‘buckets’ with a particular price and airfare rules attached. Once the lowest fare bucket is sold, a price from the next lowest bucket is offered and so forth until the flight is sold out.

 Once the flight departs the seat has no value (Getty)

Sometimes these buckets may not sell as quickly as the airline had anticipated so they may add in a lower fare bucket or a sale fare to entice more sales – hence last minute sales.

Conversely, if the seats are selling quickly or it’s a popular time of day or year to be flying, the airline may add in higher fare buckets. These can change minute by minute as bookings are made.

MYTH #3: It doesn’t matter how far in advance you book your airfare.

Airlines only make airfares available for booking 10-12 months out from departure. This means you can only book a flight 10-12 months in advance of your departure date.

However, this coincides with the release of earlybird deals so for those who like to plan in advance, you can pounce on a great deal if you forward-plan.

 Know the ways to get the best deal (Getty)

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Explore round the world tickets too. Your Guide To Round The World Flights


MYTH #4: Booking online is the best way to ensure you’re getting the cheapest price.

Travel agents have everything you can get online, plus more. They even have access to deals that you can’t book yourself.

The obvious downfall of booking online is having to spend hours trawling travel websites in search for the cheapest airfare but when booking online, you should also be wary of hidden fees.

Flight Centre accepts cash, cheques and credit cards, as well as direct debit and BPAY options.

MYTH #5: All fares are sold with the same conditions of use.

The price of an airfare is made up of the airline fare plus taxes and airport fees. Some airlines also add a fuel surcharge to compensate for the fluctuation of fuel prices.

On top of this, all fares are sold with a set of ‘rules’ or conditions related to the sale.

 Fares change as the cabin fills (Getty)

However, not all fares have exactly the same conditions and this impacts both the price and availability of certain fares.

These rules are primarily to separate the business traveller from the leisure traveller, both of whom have different needs.

Typical fare conditions include things like the inclusion of a baggage allowance, the ability to change or modify a flight booking or whether any meals are included.

Some airlines also charge extra for food selection or checked-in baggage.

Your travel agent can help you through this minefield of varying flight prices.

MYTH #6: You can earn extra frequent flyer points and priority check-in when you flash your Mile High Club membership.

Entering the ‘Mile High Club’ won’t grant you extra frequent flyer points. Or any perks because it’s not a real club with member benefits.

If you’re after club status or a membership with benefits, Flight Centre recommends joining an airline loyalty program such as the Qantas Frequent Flyer program or Virgin’s Velocity.

Similarly, Flight Centre and Commbank have teamed together so Commbank customers can redeem their credit card points to book travel.

Kellie Carty

If you're a travel writer, journalist, reporter or freelance travel writer, with a media enquiry relating to Flight Centre, please don't hesitate to send me an email. I'd be happy to help with any travel-related questions or put you in touch with the right people. You can reach me at media@flightcentre.com.au